How Wisconsin’s Public Defender Shortage May Affect Criminal Cases

Did you know that Wisconsin is experiencing a shortage of public defenders? Hundreds of cases are being delayed each day simply because defendants are waiting for a public defender to take their case. What does this mean for criminal courts and defendants?

The Court

Several significant criminal cases have been delayed due to the lack of public defenders. It has been tough to match qualified attorneys with these important cases dealing with things such as homicide, shootings, and reckless driving. In addition, most qualified attorneys already have a heavy workload, causing even more delays.

The Defendant

Defendants are not unharmed by the delays. They are often forced to wait in custody until an attorney accepts their case. This waiting period can last for months. When someone is charged with a criminal offense, they have an abundance of questions and concerns they would like answered, as well as things they would like to have investigated. None of these things can be done without the help of an attorney. Since public defenders are currently so overworked, even fewer people are interested in this work.

What Can Be Done?

One of the best solutions for the public defender shortage is an increase in funding for their offices. If the budget were increased, more people would become willing to work for this career. The pay rate for public defenders has not changed over recent years, but the workload has only gone up. This is not a relationship that can work inversely. Experts say it could take years to clear the pileup of pending cases in Wisconsin courts.

The most direct way to avoid being harmed by this situation is to hire a criminal defense attorney of your own. Having a knowledgeable, proven advocate on your side can make all the difference when you face damaging felony or misdemeanor charges.

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